WisBusiness: Middleton, Milwaukee companies tie for top spot in Gov’s Business Plan Contest

Organizers of the inaugural Governor’s Business Plan Contest announced Wednesday night that two companies will split the grand prize this year. The two will split $55,000 in prize money.

BioSystem Development, founded by CEO Scott Fulton of Middleton, offers an alternative to laboratory test used routinely by drug researchers and other scientists. NovaScan, co-founded by Bill Gregory, Chris Gregory and Larry Wells of greater Milwaukee, has developed technology that can detect breast cancer tumor at an earlier stage and smaller size than medical imaging devices in current use.

BioSystem Development and NovaScan not only tied in final judging based on oral presentations, but in earlier numerical scoring based on the judges’ reading of their 20-page business plans. Both companies were entered in the Life Sciences category of the contest, and will share category prize money as well as Grand Prize dollars.

The other category winners, each of whom will receive $10,000, are:

  • Sound Focus, a Madison firm with a technology that can direct a ball of sound to specific locations, which can lead to applications in home theaters, museums, classrooms and more. This company, co-founded by Jeffrey Milsap and J. Michael Underwood, won the information technology category.
  • Aquamake, a Milwaukee company, won the advanced manufacturing category with a wastewater recycling system that reclaims household and commercial wastewater. The treated water is reused for flushing toilets, developing “green” communities and other applications. Craig Gravatt is the founder.
  • IntelliMentor, also of Milwaukee, produces online organizational change management tools and “intelligent virtual change agents” that help people plan and implement critical business initiatives faster, cheaper and better. Thomas Olscheske of Milwaukee is the co-founder.

The contest began in late January, when 330 plans from 234 individuals in 101 communities were submitted. Sixty-five semi-finalists, announced in March, wrote summary business plans of no more than 1,250 words. The eight elements of their plans included an executive summary, product and service description, customer definition, market size, sales and marketing strategy, management team, financial highlights, capital requested and planned use of funds. Then, in April, 23 finalists were picked by a panel of judges selected by the Wisconsin Technology Council. The overall winners were picked from this group.

Sponsors of the first Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest include the state Department of Commerce, American Transmission Co., Mason Wells Private Equity, J.P. Cullen and Sons, Oracle Corporation, API Software Inc., Network 222 and the Fiore Companies, Affinity Internet Inc., and the Wisconsin Technology Council.

Entries were submitted in four categories: life sciences, advanced manufacturing, information technology and e-commerce, and business services. See a list of winners below:

Grand Prize (tie, winners will split $55,000)

BioSystem Development, Middleton

NovaScan, Milwaukee

Category winners ($10,000 each)

Information Technology – Sound Focus, Madison, for technology that can direct a ball of sound to specific locations for home theaters, museums, classrooms, etc.

Advanced Manufacturing – Aquamake, Milwaukee, wastewater recycling system.

Business Services- IntelliMentor, Milwaukee, online organization management tools.

Second-place finishers ($5,000 each)

Advanced Manufacturing – Elegant IR, Madison

Business Services – Wisconsin Kitchen Incubator, Middleton

Information Technology – Role-Based Workflow, Madison

Third place ($2,000 each)

Advanced Manufacturing – Softwave Pumps, Madison

Business Services – Education Development Board LLC, Madison

Information Technology – Shining Brow Service Management, Wauwatosa

Life Sciences – Nerites, Sun Prairie

Honorable mention ($1,000 each)

Life Sciences – EMetagen, Madison

Information Technology – The Neuron Farm, Madison; GasDay, Marquette U.; Onlight Internet Continuity System, Milwaukee; Auris Solutions, Madison; SmartChoice AV Systems, Racine; Banu Learning Systems, Fox Point.